One of the contentious debates in the communication profession in recent years has been about the preferred source of information for employees. On one side of the debate is the view by professionals like TJ Larkin that supervisors and managers are the preferred source of most employee information. On the other side is the view that employees want different information from different sources. You can use communication source gap analysis to find out the best source of information for your employees.
One way to find out what your employees want is simply to survey them on their preferred sources of information on selected important topics compared against the actual range of sources to identify where any gaps lie. This survey is an essential part of communication source gap analysis.
Typical questions to ask the respondents would be:
For simplicity, the sources of information could be numbered as follows for each item of selected information:
A follow-up survey should be conducted to check that any communication activity initiated after the survey has resulted in a smaller gap between the main source of information on a topic and the preferred main source of information.
This topic is also discussed in my article, “How to measure your communication gaps.”
A Forbes article in 2021 discusses how gap analysis can also be conducted on a broader basis in business, which can be relevant to comms heads who are a member of an executive committee:
A “gap” in your business means that you aren’t doing something well or aren’t doing it at all. A gap analysis helps identify these gaps so that you can develop a strategy to fill the voids and improve your business operations. In other words, the gap analysis takes stock of where you are now, notes where you want to be and develops a plan of attack.
When conducting a gap analysis, you can use a simple four-step process for action items that will help you reduce or eliminate your gaps. Every organization will have different things that they focus on in a gap analysis. In fact, you can have different metrics used for different departments when conducting your own gap analysis. Briefly, the four steps of a gap analysis are:
When you understand the broad principles of a gap analysis, you can contribute meaningfully in executive committee meetings, with your own comms, and with other business units. Helpful for your career!
By Silvia Arto, Vice President of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, Chair of the European Regional
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